I don’t think our ancestors were clever enough, or sober enough, when picking animals to domesticate. I won’t talk about dogs at all. Cats only eat, pee, and sleep. Cows and goats defecate everywhere and are dumber than potted plants (You lead a goat to water but it wants to go back and stare at a wall). Imagine if they domesticated able animals. A gorilla, for example, with unresolved anger issues makes him perfectly suited for white-collar work. Imagine having a gorilla as an accountant. A wolf is much cuter than a dog and more brutal and would do a better job at guarding everything including your soul. Based on the horrible choices of our forefathers, I push myself to make informed decisions when picking friends. Since it would take me a lifetime to train animals to solve my chores, I settle for friends.
I studied journalism in campus, which prepared me to be an articulate, well-informed poor person; if you think a correspondent’s pay can take you to B-Club and Kizza, you have a better chance sipping Kenya Cane in a bedsitter. In fact, most journalists walk into these clubs with complementaries and brandishing cameras for free drinks. And girls love cameras; With 2 hours dedicated to shaping mascara, concealers (to conceal the beastly marks of your childhood and sibling rivalry), beating up your face with foundation, highlighters to pop out your hidden cheek bones and blush, the only evidence of your effort is a friendzoned male photographer who hopes to slide in some day. End of discussion. So based on my academic background, the most important thing I learned in college was how to lie (It’s how I got through term papers and assignments, using as many words as possible to say nothing at all) but then I joined a profession where my only job was to tell the truth. That’s probably the only reason why I keep quiet on meeting tables. My truth is bare knuckle. And this is where all my troubles begin.
I had been hibernating since my last article where I described a lady who peed in a car park… But I got a call from a friend who wanted us to discuss something serious. I take serious things seriously. I found myself in the template of Nairobi meeting spaces which are usually some coffee restaurant like Java, Artcaffe or Café Deli with a laptop at the table’s centre. I only knew one guy there. In the spirit of not naming anyone in my articles for the safety of my family members and associates, we shall call him a lightskin USIU dude with dreadlocks and the pretentious weng’ of someone who’s walked right off a bus from Maragua and landed in Braeburn. I was ready to be quiet… I came with all my tools of silence which include a fully charged phone, the restaurant’s WiFi password which I got from a random waitress on my way in, and photos from a recent wedding where I met three beauties from my campus days. I was ready for silence.
Why silence? First, the ladies on the table look like they attend proper Universities, the Universities that have buses to drop students in town in the evening and pick them in the morning. Universities that actually teach and people sign an attendance register that gets to the Dean at the end of the semester. Secondly, all three of the ladies had natural kinky hair, and one of them had blown it up to look like a huge ball of dark cotton. From where I sat, I could see every shilling put into that hair, and from my correct scientific calculation from the formula called ‘petty observation’, you don’t sustain such hair styles with a meager salary or HELB. They look the type that make Instagram a bearable journey. They look like they wake up and breathe while watching ‘Do It Yourself’ Kinky hair YouTube videos. They all looked the part, and knowing the reality of my education lies at the armpit of Eldoret, in a fenced development in Kesses and a Primary school in Oyugis, only silence made sense. I’ve found over the past four years that the ability to ignore nearly everything such a woman says is critically important to a successful working relationship. When reading a book, I usually skim the pages to pick out the most important elements and to get to the point quicker, which is also how I deal with such hauntingly exuberant women. Plus my accent is no better than my face… I look like I sound.
I don’t understand why people have to introduce themselves in such meetings. Chances that I will ever meet you again are next to null, vaguely based on the paths we both cross on daily basis (Napanda matatu pale Bus Station, unaendesha gari ya baba yako… We may never meet). It’s like that routine done by pastors wriggling with stage fright, where they ask you to shake your neighbours hands, turn around, shake your pockets… These pastors never learn that some of us are here on a routine, seeking forgiveness for six days’ worth of sin and favours going into the next week. I have nothing to do with whomever choses to sit next to me. In that introduction, everyone had an important job… “Marketing Executive, Budget and Logistics blah blah, Entrepreneurial Development Agent (that thing exists).” I said I’m a writer, which I consider much more successful and meaningful than a ‘Sportpesa Tips Analyst’, which I saw on LinkedIn (I don’t understand that sport betting thing. You gamble your emotional and financial well-being on a bunch of strangers you see on TV, and you say witchcraft is dead in modern day Nairobi?)
“So what do you do…” asked one of those kinky haired ones..
I didn’t fully understand the question, but I’m pretty sure the answer was that I failed at life. What she was saying indirectly loved ones is that if there’s a lifetime achievement award for wasted potential; I’d still probably find a way to come up short. Never mind my academic prowess: I come from a long line of people who did well academically for absolutely no reason. An uncle of mine got straight A’s in high school, an impressive accomplishment that helped him in no way when he took over my grandparents’ small groundnuts farm.
It is at such moments that the God of Nebuchadnezzar whom I worship salvages everything for me. One of them, with that entire look, pulled a fast one. I know in your circles, you have people who talk like this…
“Yaani me I just can’t with writers… So you’re saying somewhere in your mind, creativity is just stashed waiting for a job,” said the lady whom I heard them call Mae (You see the nickname format ooh thee mortals of the East? No Jay, Jill, Janey, Seu Suzy, Stace… Hapana… Mae)
Then Mae goes on, “Oooh… MisterLeft… Gosh, me I can’t with you guys. Yaani fam, you guys just throw shade like that?”
I’ve never understood that ‘Can’t’ vocabulary… I just can’t. So I decided to take Jehova’s opportunity by the horns…
“So what exactly can’t you?” I asked.
Mae’s hair isn’t just black… It has brown ends, which look so stylish, which gives her veto power over everything we would do on that table. By that moment, she had already decided, with that one question, that I was too ghetto for her kinky hair. But I am not one to give up… I am here because of a day to day collection of misfortunes, and I needed to piss the hell out of her skin.
“Mae… You said you can’t with writers… What can’t you? I don’t get it yet.” I said.
You know that look your landlord gives you when after moving out, you go to ask for your security deposit? Mae would make a perfect landlady. Of course with a man like the guy who is not to be mentioned, who’s grooming is more important than the spelling of ‘things’ (he says tingz), the meeting had to go on. He said, “Let’s go on guys”… And since we concluded that most women are completely uninterested in democracy and its weak, representative power, we had to go on with the meeting. Movies about girls who grow up to be prime ministers or presidents don’t make it to the cinema or Disney (All the Best Hillary Clinton. She could be the first successful of such Disney stories). No sensible female wants to be enslaved by the whims of a fickle electorate. Little girls want raw power and the fastest way to get it is to marry into the royal family in an absolute monarchy (Read: Princess stories like Cinderella).
But really… This ‘I can’t’ vocabulary needs some looking into. The committee of people who decide cool words and phrases should at least give us something better than a grammatically incorrect phrase, which has no bearing to subject, verb, predicate rules. I took you to school there.
Mae… I can’t.
Enjoy your weekend.